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How to Cite US Government Documents in MLA, APA Citation Style: Rules/Regulations -- Code of Federal Regulations and the Federal Register


For material not specifically covered in the MLA Handbook , the MLA refers users to The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. The examples below are based on The Bluebook (page 223-224)

Federal Regulations:

Regulations are first published in the Federal Register and later appear in the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.). Cite to the latest edition of the C.F.R. whenever possible. If the regulation is not yet published in the C.F.R. cite to the Federal Register.

Cite to the Latest edition of the Code of Federal Regulatons (CFR) whenever possible:

The Code consists of "titles" indicated by title numbers 1-50. Entries are further broken down by section, indicated with the section symbol, §. * 

A typical citation to the CFR begins with the title number, followed by the abbreviated reference __C.F.R.__ followed by the section and the year.  (The Bluebook 121). 


11 C.F.R. § 300.10 2011.

Note:  "Give the name of the regulation only if the rule or regulation is commonly cited that way or if the information would otherwise aid in indentification. [Emphasis mine] (The Bluebook 121)

General Prohibitions on Raising and Spending non-Federal Funds, 11 C.F.R. § 300.10 2011.

Note: the section symbol in Word can be found by going to Insert > Symbol > More Symbols > Special Characters > §


If the regulation does not yet appear in the C.F.R. , cite to the Federal Register:

Proposed rules, new rules, and presidential papers, proclamations, and executive orders are published daily in The Federal Register - 

If a rule has not yet been published in the C.F.R., cite to the Federal Register.

Include the title of the regulation, the volume of the Federal Register __Fed. Reg.__followed by the issue. Enclose the date in parentheses.  Note: To find the volume and issue, open the pdf to view the header of the published Register.

Examinations of Work Areas in Underground Coal Mines for Violations of Mandatory Health or Safety Standards, 77 Fed. Reg. 67 (April 6, 2012). Federal Register: The Daily Journal of the United States. Web. 6 April 2012.

For more information, see Rule 14.2 on page 121 of The Bluebook.

Citing Government Documents in the Body of the Paper (Parenthetical Citations)

MLA Style -- References in the body of the paper

MLA documentation style uses brief parenthetical citations in the text that lead to the list of works cited. To cite government documents in parenthetical references, the MLA Handbook refers users to page 224, Section 6.4.5. Citing a Work by a Corporate Author.

Following MLA Style guidelines, the first element in a parenthetical reference (generally, the author) should correspond to the first element in the List of Works Cited.

If you are referencing a number of legislative documents, you will need to include enough information in the parenthetical reference to direct the reader to the correct reference in the List of Works Cited.

"When giving the name of a corporate author in parentheses, shorten terms that are commonly abbreviated...." (MLA Handbook 224) e.g., (U.S. Cong. House. Comm. on House Administration).

As you can see, even with the abbreviations, this makes for a fairly long reference and may make your paper more difficult to read. One alternative is to include the reference in a sentence.

"In 2001, the United States Congressional Committee on House Administration published their report on the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2001 (House Rept. 131).  In the report, ..."

If you need to reference a number of legislative or legal documents throughout the body of your paper, you may wish to use another citation style, such as the Chicago numbered note style or APA style. You will need to choose the citation style that best fits your needs (and approved by your instructor) and use it consistently throughout the paper.

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